Tag Archives: ebay tips

Woulda coulda shoulda set a reserve price

I’ve never used a reserve price in any of my auctions so far, but when our halogen kitchen light bar sold for about $10, I wish I had.

The auction had a few watchers and an early opening bid at the minimum price. I was certain there would be a few closing bids to push the price up to a decent level.

I was wrong.

The guy who won the auction got an incredible price on a great light fixture. I told him so in the note I sent him when I waved goodbye to my fixture down at the Post Office. To add insult to injury, I had to buy a pack of packing peanuts to properly pack the package (say that five times fast). By the time I paid for the peanuts, I think I made about a buck three eighty off the light fixture.

Enough whining, back to the subject of reserve prices. Unfortunately there’s an extra fee that comes with setting a reserve price and it’s not cheap. For reserve prices set at less than $200 the fee is $2. Above that, the fee is one percent of the reserve price.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that if your item sells, you get the reserve fee back. You only pay the extra reserve fee if your item doesn’t sell. So, from one perspective it’s a gamble but from another point of view it’s an insurance policy.

Hmmm. Ambiguity. You gotta love it, or not.

There is another approach, and that is to set a higher starting bid level if you’re really convinced your item is worth a certain amount or you don’t want to see it fly out the door too cheaply. Of course, with higher starting bids, eBay charges higher listing fees. So again, it’s a trade off.

However, if you do sell your item with a low starting price and a reserve, your final fee will be less than setting a higher starting bid without a reserve.

There is another drawback with higher starting prices. They chase off a lot of buyers. So there you go.

By the way, if you do start an auction with a reserve price, it’s okay to tell bidders what the reserve price is. There’s no rule against it and buyers tend to appreciate your willingness to be honest and open about the situation.

USPS Priority Mail Great For eBay, Not for Animals

I love USPS Priority Mail for its speed and simplicity. It’s especially useful when the winning bidder in your eBay auction lives outside the United States.

But, it’s no way to ship live animals.

A woman in Minneapolis tried to mail a puppy to a relative as a present. The pooch went unnoticed until a postal worker knocked the box off a counter and he started making noise—the dog, not the postal worker.

So while using Priority Mail for eBay shipments can be the smart thing to do, I’m afraid this woman’s actions just highlighted how stupid this nation has become.

My son and I were discussing Priority Mail yesterday. He has a few eBay auctions going and it looks like one of his items might go to a bidder in Taiwan. After checking a few rates, Priority Mail turned out to be by far the best deal. Also, when you have an item to be shipped Priority Mail, you can schedule a pick up so you don’t have to bother with a trip to the local Post Office.

If your item fits in a Priority Mail box, international shipping can be fairly easy. One more tip: I’ve found that the customs form you get at the Post Office counter is more simple than the online form that is available at USPS.com. For some reason, the online form requires more information.

Usually when organizations move things into the online environment, they get easier to deal with.

Well, it is Post Office management we’re talking about here…

(By the way. That cute puppy photo comes to us via The Daily Puppy where you can definitely meet your minimum daily requirement for cute puppy pictures.)

Shipping in plain brown paper…

Kraft paper, my newest best friend.

I’ve simplified a portion of my eBay shipping routine. If I’m sending something that is in its original packaging and the item is securely held with custom molded styrofoam within its box, I’ve started to just wrap the box in brown kraft paper, tape the bejeezus out of it and send it on its merry way to my eBay customer.

I don’t think putting a box like that inside of another box really provides very much extra protection. If I’m ever shipping an eBay item that is fragile (pronounced frah-gee-lay) I may go to the box-in-box strategy, but for many items I don’t think it’s necessary.

Plain brown paper.

You can get a roll of kraft paper at your local office supply for next to nothing. Make sure you tape over all your seams and reinforce the corners when you’re doing your wrapping job.

My biggest hurdle when I first used kraft paper to cover a box to ship an eBay sale was my innate inability to neatly wrap a box. I’ve gotten a little more proficient now with a few boxes under my belt (hmm, I don’t think I like that imagery). The key, I believe, is to go through the same steps every time. Successful wrapping is all about repetition, just like successful rapping.

And by next Christmas, the presents I wrap for my wife shouldn’t look like disasters under the tree.

All thanks to eBay.